CALL (800) 863-5312 TO SPEAK WITH SANTA FE DOG BITE LAWYERS FOR FREE
Dogs are generally loyal companions and beloved pets, yet they may sometimes bite or attack. Dog bites can be extremely serious injuries, resulting in infections, muscle damage, and disfigurement, requiring extensive treatment. If you have been injured by a dog, you may be able to seek compensation from the owner.
If you or a loved one has been bitten or attacked by a dog, you should call the experienced Santa Fe dog bite attorneys from Zinda Law Group at (800) 863-5312 for a free consultation. If we are not able to win your case, you will not owe us anything.
WHAT TO DO IF YOU HAVE BEEN BITTEN BY A DOG
1. Seek Medical Attention
If you have been bitten by a dog, you should immediately seek medical attention. Dog bites may result in serious injuries, and if left untreated, and may result in severe complications. Along with the visible damage done by dog bites, infections are common and may continue to worsen until they are treated properly. These infections may come from bacteria from the dog’s mouth when it breaks the skin, or it may occur after the bite if the wound is not immediately treated with proper medical attention. Dog bites may expose you to rabies, which may be fatal if untreated.
2. Contact Local Animal Control
After a dog bite, you should contact Santa Fe Animal Services as soon as possible. Animal control will be able to respond to the situation and secure the dog to ensure nobody else is harmed. They may then begin to investigate the accident. Animal control may also be able to determine if the dog is licensed and has received the proper rabies vaccinations as well as if it has received any prior reports of biting anyone.
3. Collect and Document Evidence
Document any evidence that may be available. You should collect the contact information of anybody who may have witnessed the dog bite you, and you should also attempt to document the incident as soon as possible, including:
- The dog’s behavior
- Your own behavior leading up to the incident
- Whether the dog was on a leash or otherwise secured
- Whether it bit you on a sidewalk, in public, or on private property,
- Any medical costs incurred while receiving treatment for your injuries.
4. Consult an Attorney
You should consult a Santa Fe dog bite lawyer as soon as possible if you have been bitten by a dog. An experienced lawyer may be able to help you to determine who may be liable and how much compensation you may be entitled to. Dog bite cases can be complex, and the dog’s owner may try to blame you for provoking the attack. A dog bite lawyer in Santa Fe may be able to help you navigate these complexities and pursue the compensation you may be entitled to.
Learn More: Why Hiring a Lawyer Will Help Your Case
IS THE DOG OWNER LIABLE FOR DOG BITE INJURIES?
In New Mexico, victims of dog bites may seek compensation for their injuries from the owner of the dog under either strict liability or negligence claims.
One Bite Rule
In New Mexico, the one-bite rule is used in many cases to hold the dog’s owner liable for any injuries. If the owner of a dog knew or should have known the dog was dangerous, they may be liable for all injuries the dog caused. A dog may be considered dangerous if it has previously bitten a person or has shown aggressive tendencies. The type of breed may also be a factor in determining if the dog is considered dangerous, as some breeds, such as pit bulls, may be considered to be dangerous, even without prior aggressive behavior.
The owner of a dangerous dog has a responsibility to properly restrain their dog and take proper precautions to prevent the dog from injuring anyone. If the owner owns a dog that is considered dangerous, strict liability may apply. This means that the owner is liable for all damages resulting from injuries caused by their dog and may not be able to avoid liability by claiming the dog was provoked nor will the victim need to prove the owner acted negligently in failing to prevent the dog bite.
Even if the dog responsible for your injuries was not previously considered to be dangerous, the owner may still be liable for injuries caused by the dog if they behaved negligently. Negligent behavior by the dog’s owner may include:
- Failing to keep the dog on a leash
- Allowing the dog to roam freely
- Failing to provide a proper enclosure for the dog
To prove negligence and determine liability, five elements must generally be proven: ownership, duty of care, breach of duty, and causation.
First, you must prove that the defendant is the owner of the dog, was in possession of the dog when the injury occurred, or owned the property where the dog attack occurred.
Duty of Care
Next, you must show that the owner of the dog owed the victim a duty of care. A duty of care is an obligation to take certain precautions to ensure an accident does not occur, such as making sure the dog is on a leash.
Breach of Duty
The owner of the dog must have breached this duty, meaning they failed to take precautions which may have prevented the incident. If a dog owner allows their dog to wander around without a leash in Santa Fe, this may allow a dog bite to occur.
Next, it must also be proven that the dog owner's breach of duty was the proximate cause of the accident. This means that if not for the failure of the dog owner to take the proper precautions, the incident would not have occurred. For example, if the dog owner had properly restrained their dog, the dog would not have been able to bite the victim.
Finally, most negligence claims also require a showing that you actually suffered damages as a result of the other party’s negligent behavior. In dog bite cases, this may be satisfied by showing the results of the injuries where the dog bit you.
It should be noted that in cases based on negligence, the dog owner may be able to attempt to defend themself by claiming the dog was provoked. A provoking action may include yelling at the dog, taunting the dog, as well as hitting or otherwise physically causing the dog pain or discomfort. A Santa Fe lawyer may help you determine if the dog owner may be liable for your injuries and help you seek the compensation you may be entitled to.
If you have been injured due to a dog bite, you may be able to seek compensation for your injuries, including both economic and non-economic damages.
You may be able to seek compensation for medical expenses. This can include hospital stays, treatments, therapy, and reconstructive surgery, as well as future medical expenses if your injury requires ongoing treatment.
If your injuries required you to miss work, you may be able to seek compensation for your lost wages. If your injuries have left you unable to work, you may also be able to seek compensation for your loss of potential income, which may be determined based on your general health before the incident, age, and job.
Pain and Suffering
You may also be compensated for the physical anguish, emotional distress, and any disfigurement caused by the accident and its impact on your quality of life.
In rare cases, you may also be able to win punitive damages, based on how egregious the behavior was that caused your accident.
STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS
The statute of limitations governs how long you have to file a lawsuit. In New Mexico, you have three years from the date of the incident to file a claim for a dog bite attack. It may require some time to investigate your claim and attempt to negotiate with insurers to reach a settlement before you file the lawsuit. You should contact an attorney as soon as possible to ensure you file your claim within this window.
CONTACT A SANTA FE DOG BITE ATTORNEY
A dog bite can quickly turn your life upside down, as you may find yourself suddenly facing mounting medical expenses and injuries that may impact you the rest of your life. If you have been injured in a dog bite accident, you should consult a lawyer as soon as possible. Your attorney may be able to investigate your case to determine if the dog owner may be liable and determine what compensation you may be entitled to.
Most dog owners have some insurance coverage under their home insurance policies, and their insurers will work hard to pay out as little as possible, if anything. The insurer may attempt to drag out the process, hoping you will accept an offer that may be drastically lower than what you may be entitled to. By taking swift action, you can help provide your attorney with the adequate time required to investigate your claim to find evidence supporting your case. This may help ensure you file your Santa Fe dog bite lawsuit within these legal time limits.
GET HELP FROM A DOG BITE LAWYER IN SANTA FE TODAY
At Zinda Law Group, our Santa Fe lawyers may assist you with your claim. Our attorneys have years of experience helping our clients seek the maximum compensation after dog bite accidents.
Meetings with attorneys by appointment only.